Coping with COVID: Tips for Conquering Your Wedding Guest List When You’re Forced to Make “COVID Cuts”  

With so many new rules and regulations in place affecting large group gatherings, wedding planning has reached a whole new level of daunting.  Now on top of all the regular wedding day stressors, couples are dealing with travel bans, social distancing requirements, temperature checks and mask wearing…just to name a few.  

As a result of all these regulations, couples are making the heartbreaking decision to downsize their guest list or, dare I say it, uninvite guests that have already received invitations.  Unfortunately, so many couples that have planned a 2020 wedding are at the mercy of COVID and must make this tough decision if they wish to move forward with their nuptials. 

Let’s face it, trimming a guest list is a total bummer, on both ends. The first thing we want all couples facing this agonizing task to remember is that these are not ordinary circumstances. No one planned that the world was going to be turned upside down in a matter of weeks (and that is putting it nicely).  We know that here is nothing easy about this, so we are offering up some tips on how to conquer your guest list “COVID style”.  We hope this makes it a little less dreadful! 

Keep the People You Cannot Imagine Your Wedding Day Without

Think about the people that you called immediately to share your engagement news with; these are probably the same people that you speak with (or text with) every day.  We call these people your wedding list VIP’s, they are likely your immediate family and wedding party.  These are the non-negotiables; it just would not be your wedding day without their presence. 

PLANNER’S TIP:  We think it is a great idea to reach out to your wedding VIP’s and make sure they can attend your wedding. Some may not be willing to travel or attend gatherings, no matter how small, because of health and safety reasons. Knowing for sure which VIP’s will be there will help later as you narrow the rest of your guest list.    

Cut Anyone You Do Not Talk to on a Regular Basis 

The most cut and dry tactic for removing guests is to eliminate anyone that you have not had recent and regular communication with (not easy, we know).  Those long-lost cousins, your college buddies who you have not spoken to in five years and the neighbors you had when you moved into your first apartment may have to go.  Remember…extenuating circumstances!!

Eliminate Plus Ones 

It may seem like we are throwing wedding etiquette right out the window, but under these new guidelines it makes sense to eliminate the offering of allowing your guests to bring a “plus one”.  At this point you have narrowed your list down to those that deeply care about you and being part of your wedding day, so they should understand your need to cut down, thus denying them the opportunity to bring that “special someone”.   

Give Guests the Option to Attend Virtually 

As I have said before this is heartbreaking for you and your guests, but most people are probably expecting it. Some couples are taking their weddings virtual to include the loved ones they could not invite. Whether live streaming the significant moments throughout your day or offering digital photo booths where you can interact with the “at home” guests, including them virtually is something we can definitely get on board with (and we think you should too!).  

Setting Expectations 

Remember both you and your soon to be spouse are both mourning the loss of your original vision that you have arduously planned for months or even years.  The best advice we can offer is to set expectations that both of you stick with.  If you define some structure in how you decide who you are going to cut (family only, locals only, etc.), we think it will help keep things clean and fair. When the time comes to let your guests know, remember to be open and honest with your conversations. We suggest lovingly communicating the letdown to your guests individually as opposed to a group text or a post on your wedding website. Feelings are going to be hurt, but we think you will find that your guests understand, and some may even be relieved.  

You are not alone in this endeavor; many couples have had to reimagine their full-scale celebration as a more intimate affair.  In the end, celebrating your wedding with 150 people or 15 people doesn’t change the fact that you two love each other and together can conquer the world…after all, look at all you have done already thanks to COVID. And if you still need a reason to smile just think of the rocking vow renewal party you can plan when all of this is over!!!